Letter: Mboweni's 'Call To Action' Fruitless - The Citizen

1 February 2021 - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni recently took to Twitter to issue a "Call to Action" to "enable and support young people who want to go into farming and start small businesses".

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni  recently took to Twitter to issue a "Call to Action" to "enable and support young people who want to go into farming and start small businesses".

This is a refrain South Africa has heard since the '8os; but a nominal commitment to entrepreneurship and business development has never been matched by action. Indeed, we can forget support, since the state hasn't the resources, competence or expertise to provide it.

More concerning has been its record on "enabling" business. The failings of basic governance and administration the collapse of municipalities; inadequate maintenance of infrastructure; the power crisis; crime and so on erect enormous obstacles to entrepreneurial intentions. Policy choices have compounded this.

This is well illustrated by race-based empowerment policy. This is a policy posture that works to the general disadvantage of the entrepreneurial community. There is abundant evidence that this has added significantly to compliance burdens, while offering little of value to entrepreneurs of any background.

That the government chose to use BEE status as a criterion for assistance to firms during the pandemic, and is now pushing for more intrusive and burdensome employment equity provisions, illustrates just how deeply rooted and damaging the ideological impulses are.

The message seems clear: business is accepted perhaps tolerated? provided it acts on "our" terms.

Until the government sees the folly of this and discards its ideological straitjacket in favour of pragmatism and a real appreciation of the value of entrepreneurship, the minister's "Call to Action" will prove as fruitless as they have from the last four decades.

Terence Corrigan, project manager, Institute of Race Relations

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